Recently, the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) was shot down. The reason for its failure? It wasn’t conservative enough to survive the opposition of the Freedom Caucus, the group of conservatives in the House of Representatives that are most likely to support limited government, free markets, and personal responsibility. Their unified opposition all but assured that the new healthcare bill would never leave the House and enter the Senate.
In a strange turn of events, President Trump actually threatened these conservative lawmakers, saying that their reelection chances would go to nearly zero if they didn’t get behind the bill. These legislators didn’t budge, and chose instead to resist a healthcare replacement that fell too short, included too many big-government policies, and didn’t fulfill the Republican promise of eliminating Obamacare in its entirety. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s leadership was challenged on this issue, and he could not rise to the occasion and deliver on a bill he promised he could get passed. Whether or not this failure will prove disastrous for his reelection as Speaker in 2018 remains to be seen.
What we do know for certain, however, is that the conservatives in Congress are sticking to their guns (it’s a metaphor, liberals; you can come out of your safe spaces now). This stance almost guarantees the next 4 years will be filled with unexpected drama. While many thought Trump would get a GOP rubber stamp, the Right has proven they are willing to stand up to him when his proposed bills don’t promote the values conservatives hold dear.
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump was a much better choice for Commander-in-Chief than Hillary Clinton, but that doesn’t mean he’s a conservative standard bearer. Some of his positions are questionable (such as healthcare), while others are excellent (such as his stance on illegal immigration). The thing with Mr. Trump is that you never really know what he’s thinking. Entire books can be written about his thought process and long-term agenda.
It is certainly possible that the President wants the new healthcare bill to fail, hoping this secret strategy is effective enough to remove Paul Ryan and replace him with a conservative leader. Under this scenario of new leadership, Obamacare really is replaced, and conservative, free-market ideas win the day.
Another theory could be that Trump simply does not care about replacing Obamacare. He has been known to support a single-payer system in the past, and maybe he was only trying to appeal to the GOP by taking on a replacement for ACA. With his proposed bill failing in the House, he’ll want to move on past the rejection and focus on other things he could win at with the American people. I find this theory less likely though, given that he is a businessman first, and knows Obamacare will collapse under its own weight if left alone.
Conservatives, led in the House by the Freedom Caucus, should continue their insistence that the Republicans present clean, simple, and Constitutional bills. These bills should lessen government intrusion, promote individual liberty, and be easy enough for a regular American to read. The American people have rewarded the GOP in multiple, successive elections. The Right now owns the House, Senate, Presidency, a majority of State assemblies, governorships, and soon will have a new conservative on the Supreme Court. Instead of trying to compromise with the Democrats, who have been rejected for years in national and State elections, the GOP should move full steam ahead, knowing the States are behind them.
It’s time for conservatives to lead.